The gutter pipe can be both good and bad habitat for this lizard.

Drain-Dwelling Lizard Lifestyle

Sue Stevens

Zoologists, ecologists and herpetologists all advise leaving pipes around in your backyard for lizards to shelter in, but what if there’s a dog or cat around? Urban lizards have to be adaptable and find habitat wherever they can. Recently, I was walking along the street in my neighbourhood and heard some leaves rustling. I looked down to see an eastern blue-tongued lizard reversing into a pipe in the gutter of the street.

The gutter pipe can be both good and bad habitat for this lizard. It is safe inside: too small for dogs and foxes to enter - it’s not even wide enough to turn around! With leaf litter right at the entrance, there are likely to be some insects to snack on within easy reach of this safe havens doorway. The surrounding black bitumen road offers a sunny basking site, but it is also a dangerous places as there are cars to be run over by. And when it rains this drain is full of water.

My backyard is just about the only one in the neighbourhood without a resident dog or cat. Last summer, I saw a blue-tongue hanging around near my compost bin. This was only the second summer in twenty years that I have seen one in my yard. There are hardly any snails or slugs in my backyard these days, so maybe there is one here more often than I know. Blue-tongues are true survivors in my neighbourhood.

Author bio: Sue is an urban ecologist currently living in the Cooks River valley in Sydney’s inner south-west.

Cooks River, Sydney, Australia